King Georges Hall, Blackburn Soul Night Saturday 28th June 2008
Review - Macka
Being a regular attendee at this event for the past couple of years, as always, I was looking forward to the Soul night at King George’s Hall, Blackburn. Unfortunately for me it was my turn to be “designated driver” for the night, so after rounding up my motley crew of friends (you know who you are!) from the burbs of Manchester, off we went up the M66 to Blackburn.
We arrived at the venue about 11:30pm and as usual the place was filling up fast. I had heard that it was a sell out with 1400 tickets sold so I was expecting it to be a busy night!!!
King George’s Hall is a huge place split over 3 levels with 3 rooms offering Northern Soul upstairs, Modern Soul on the ground floor and a Jazz Funk room downstairs. Upon entering the Modern Soul room I was surprised to see how rammed it was this early on in the night, so after getting a drink at the bar (my first of many cokes…groan!) we set off to have a look downstairs in the Jazz funk room. Again I was surprised to see just how quite it was down here considering how corked it was upstairs in the Modern Soul room! – But as it wasn’t midnight yet I knew there was plenty of time left for it to fill up.
As Northern Soul isn’t my thing I didn’t venture into this arena at all (in fact in the numerous times I’ve been here I think I’ve only been in this arena once, and that was only for a nosey at the room, which is huge!) therefore can’t comment on what goes on in there at all!
After doing the rounds as it were, I went back upstairs into the Modern Soul room to see how it was shaping up. Andy Davies was on the decks and was playing a good set with a mix of up-tempo grooves ranging from 80’s to Y2K which had the dance floor full and bouncing! Richard Searling had played his set in this room prior to Andy Davies, which I missed as we weren’t there early enough!! But from what I’ve been told, Richard started the night off in style as we haven some to expect from him.
Next up on the decks was Barry Maleady who picked up where Andy left off continuing with the usual mix of 80’s and 90’s classics which kept the crowd’s attention, the party atmosphere going and the dance floor absolutely jam packed. Which brings me to my main gripe about Blackburn of late – The room used for the Modern Soul is the smallest of the 3 in use and has a small circular raised dance floor which is far too small for the amount of people crammed into this room - I would guess that there are at least 600 peeps in here at any one time. This is in stark contrast to the downstairs Jazz Funk room which is much bigger with a huge dance floor!!! About 1:30am, I ventured back down to the Jazz Funk arena and it had less than 100 people in it and felt empty in comparison to upstairs!! – I am not the only person to have noticed that this has been the case for the last few times Blackburn has been on, surely it makes sense to swap these 2 rooms around to give us Modern Soul Heads more room to flick a foot back!
I know Blackburn Soul Night is a long established and very successful night that is almost always a sell out, so from the promoters point of view the old “if it ain’t broken, don’t try and fix it” line would be a fair standpoint. But as we all know times and tastes change, with the upbeat party atmosphere in the Modern Soul room by far outstripping demand for the more laidback atmosphere in the Jazz funk room.
Anyway now that I’ve got that off my chest, back to the music – at 1:30am Barry Maleady finished his set with some 80’s classics and then handed over to Mike Stephens who played out the remainder of the night until 3am. Mr Stephens as usual cranked the party atmosphere up a notch or two and had everyone movin’ & groovin’ to the end. As ever with Mike the mixing from tune to tune was pitch perfect ebbing and flowing from one tune to the next, especially when he dropped the SOS band classic ‘No ones gonna love you’ which he seamlessly mixed into Maxwell’s ‘Ascension’(the tribute mix of course!) – bringing much whooping and cheering from the amassed revellers!!!
Mike finished his set off with Oleta Adams’s ‘Rhythm of Life’ bringing the night to an end - which came much too soon for me!! Incidentally Oleta Adams’s ‘Rhythm of Life’ always reminds me of when we used to go to the Mall night club back in the day when Soul Control were in residence! – although the sound system at Blackburn unfortunately couldn’t do this track’s B-Line justice like the Soul Control sound system could back then!
I have to say the 3 DJ’s Andy, Barry & Mike in the Modern Soul room complement each other very well, all playing diverse yet similar styles of 80’s, 90’s and new Soul tunes without playing it too safe (and no, none of them played Wifey!) or going to obscure, but playing to the crowd which kept the room rocking all night!
Soul Control Verdict:
All in all you can’t go far wrong with Blackburn, having 3 rooms to explore and check out the differing styles of Soul music, although for me the Modern Soul room is where it’s at! The crowd you find there is a nice mix of Soul heads from across the North West and beyond with the usual large contingency from Manchester making it a friendly laid back atmosphere where there is something for everyone!
Soul Control Rating: